(OilPrice) Foreign policy analysts doubt that Mitt Romney, if elected on Tuesday, would actually be able to carry through on his promise to help American workers by labelling China a “currency manipulator” on the first day of his Administration. They say that the ensuing retaliatory tariffs on artificially cheap Chinese goods would precipitate a trade war that would hurt the American economy, causing friction with the fastest-growing market for U.S. exports and setting U.S.-China relations back by more than a decade.

It is more likely that Romney would have to soften, or perhaps abandon, this stance if he enters the White House, they argue. After all, Obama made similar promises before he came to office, and yet the realities of one of the largest bilateral trading relationships in human history made these impracticable. And then, some point out, there is uncertainty over whether or not the United States, as a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), actually can unilaterally impose retaliatory tariffs on China.

As this debate carries on into the last few days of a tight election race, few people are asking a more fundamental question: Can China afford to enter into a major trade war with the United States?

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